Time bureau chief not informed on health care

By Joseph Sparks
Sparks Remarks blog, May 24, 2014

Which statement is true?

  1. The earth is flat.
  2. The sky is red.
  3. “Health care, especially in this country, is an enormously expensive laborious undertaking, and … no one’s figured out how to do it economically and efficiently.” – Michael Scherer, Washington Bureau Chief, Time Magazine on “Now with Alex Wagner” on May 22, 2014 (at about 5:45 minutes into the video).
  4. None of the above.

The correct answer is: “None of the above.” The earth is nearly spherical; the sky is blue, and there are at least 19,000 people who know how to make health care efficient and economical in this country. It can be done with a single-payer system, and legislation has been proposed that would implement single-payer, H.R. 676.

It is downright frightening that a Washington bureau chief would make such an egregious error.

A single-payer system has several advantages. They include:

  • Covers everybody – Single-payer provides universal coverage. There are no signups because everyone is automatically covered.
  • Eliminates co-pays and deductibles for medical care and pharmaceuticals – Since co-pays and deductibles are not required, out-of-pocket expenses are eliminated making health care affordable for everyone. Imagine going to a doctor or hospital and not needing your wallet. Further, when you are admitted, no clerk needs to check on your insurance status. That becomes a reality with single-payer.
  • Allows you to choose any caregiver or hospital – Single-payer provides more freedom because there are no restrictions imposed by limited insurance networks.
  • Stabilizes costs – Single-payer would lower or maintain costs at current levels making health care affordable now and in the future.

(A more detailed description of the problems with the current health care system and the benefits of a single-payer system can be found here.)

So, to say that nobody’s figured out how to do health care economically and efficiently is flat out wrong. When journalists do not discuss single-payer as the solution to the current health care crisis, they perform a disservice to their profession and the public.

In fact, when discussing any alternative health care system in this country, the questions that need to be asked are:

  • “Would this system cover everybody as a single-payer system would?”
  • “Would this system eliminate out-of-pocket expenses as a single-payer system would?”
  • “Would this system allow patients to choose any caregiver or hospital as a single-payer system would?”

When (not if) the answers are no, then next question needs to be, “Could you explain how your proposal is better than a single-payer system?”

If a Washington bureau chief does not know about single-payer, then it is unlikely that the public knows. It is vital that journalists inform other journalists of the single-payer option, and it is the responsibility of all journalists to inform the public because it is the only viable solution for economic and efficient health care.

(I urge everybody to go here and demand that MSNBC correct their mistake. If enough people protest, networks might start discussing single-payer.)

Joseph Sparks is a freelance journalist who resides in Washington, D.C. He covers health care, politics, and technology.